Bankrupt Plymouth County company purchased, set to open summer 2 - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Bankrupt Plymouth County company purchased, set to open summer 2014


PLYMOUTH COUNTY, Iowa (KTIV) - More jobs, and a new company will soon be coming to Merrill, Iowa.

The business is starting up in a place that not long ago shut down because of a foreclosure, but the new owners say they have big plans for the future of that once financially troubled plant.

Plymouth Oil had a vision for revolutionary corn energy projects in their plant just north of Merrill, Iowa, but it didn't all work out that way.

"Because of some financial difficulty that the company has incurred, they chose to file bankruptcy some time ago," Jack Guenthner, Plymouth County Supervisor said.

Plymouth Oil foreclosed on their mortgage, and the assets of the company that's millions of dollars in debt went to a Sheriff's sale Tuesday morning. The property was projected to go for more than 11 million dollars, but the first bidder, a company in its first year named Prairie Sun Foods, got all of the assets for just three million.

Though operations surrounding this plant haven't always been smooth sailing, shareholders past, present, and future say they're much more optimistic about the way things will go this time around.

"The basic concepts that the company had and what they were trying to do was a great idea. Our plan is to take those concepts forward and basically execute them as best we can, and we're pretty confident we can make it work," Matthew Willard, Prairie Sun Foods Manager said.

Two of the shareholders in Prairie Sun Foods are former shareholders in Plymouth Oil who don't want to see the project die just yet.

"We'll take the corn kernel apart. The starch, the stuff that nobody really wants, will go make ethanol, and the good stuff, the food stuff, will be made into food. So that's really why the idea was great. It's a great idea, and it's the right idea," Willard said.

Their final product, a gluten-free, low-fat corn flour that's high in fiber and protein, will give them an edge in the health food market, according to Willard. He says some of the 25 or so former employees of the company must believe in it, too, because they've already started asking for their jobs back.

Prairie Sun Foods is hoping to start hiring in early summer, and plans to re-open the plant, after making sure it's in good shape, sometime around September of this year.

The Plymouth County Supervisors also did some business with Plymouth Oil Tuesday, officially terminating their agreement with the bankrupt company.

The Supervisors voted unanimously this morning to terminate the development agreement with the company, originally written to rebate a percentage of the company's taxes as they got off the ground.

80 thousand dollars worth of 2013-14 fiscal year taxes are still missing, and Plymouth Oil was denied chapter eleven bankruptcy by a judge, putting them in chapter seven liquidation stage.

"At the time that the agreement was entered into, the county felt that there was promise for the company and hoped that it would succeed, and the results are that it did not go quite the way they had anticipated," Guenthner said.

Plymouth Oil will pay a penalty on those taxes for every month they were late in 2013-14, and if they don't pay up by June 16, the assets will be sold to an investor at the county's tax sale.

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